Was the Samaritan woman really married that many times?


In John 4, I get confused with the issue of marriage. Christ wanted her to call her husband until she said she had none. Then Christ said she had had five husbands, except that her present man was not her husband. Was Christ trying to prove that she had never married properly? And if so, why did he refer to them as husbands? Can we say she had had six men since the present one was probably not added to the first five? Were women permitted to practice polyandry in Christ's time?


"He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet"" (John 4:16-19).

Jesus wished to establish in this woman's mind that he is not an ordinary man, so he asked the woman to send for her husband. The woman proved herself to be honest at least. She stated that she was not currently married. But Jesus did not let her go so easily. He pointed out that she had been married to five different men in the past and that she was currently living with a man without being married to him.

What we don't know is how this woman's past marriages ended. The most likely reason is that she was divorced repeatedly. Even if her subsequent marriages were not legitimate as far as God is concerned, they still remain marriages. "So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man" (Romans 7:3). A marriage to someone you have no right to marry is an adulterous marriage, but it is still a joining to another person.

Polyandry is not under consideration here. Nothing indicates that she was married to five men at the same time, only that she has had five marriages.


Beautiful! Now it's clear to me. God bless you,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email